1.) Be prepared! Do anything you can the day before. Make the desserts early; some can be made up to 4 days ahead of time depending on what you are making. If you can make it early you should. However, food is not the only thing that can be done early. If you are setting up the table with nice place settings or place cards get it all done the night before. Put out the table cloth or placemats, get the napkins ready, anything you do not have to do the day of you should get done when you have time in the days before the event. It is one less thing to do the day of.
2.) Go simple with your centerpiece. Make an arrangement of fall pumpkins and gourds in a small bowl. Keep the arrangement low so guests can still see each other and enjoy conversation. You will need room on the table for all the bowls, plates and platters of food so do not let the centerpiece overwhelm the space. This way it can stay on the table without you having to move anything around when it’s time to eat.
3.) Accept help if it is offered! As much as you may want to do everything yourself, you will have a lot more time to interact with guests if you accept their help (especially with the clean up!). Let guests help clean off the table after you eat. It will make it easier on you and you will be able to get back to having fun and visiting with those you may not see all that often a lot faster.
4.) To save time and more preparation while guests are there set up a dessert buffet. Most of the desserts we traditionally have on the holiday do not need to be refrigerated. Set up all your desserts on a sideboard or buffet table off to the side of the room. Once everyone is ready for dessert it will be easy for guests to serve themselves. Dress up the table more if you are having a more fancy gathering (use the dessert plates from our monthly mood board) and have a designated time for dessert. You can serve the guests or let them serve themselves. If your gathering is more casual (use our choice for casual dessert plates from our monthly mood board) and let guests serve themselves at their leisure. The table is set for dessert and people can get something to eat whenever they want throughout the rest of the gathering. It keeps it simple and gives you time to mingle or watch the game.
5.) Everyone is there for the meal, but it is usually an all day event, watching football, playing games, catching up with friends and relatives you may not see all the time. Do not neglect the other areas of your home that people will be in. Make sure there are surfaces in the living room for guest to set drinks or small plates of appetizers and desserts. That may mean you need to set out some trays to top ottomans or some nicer TV trays for a temporary fix. Also never forget about the bathroom. Make sure everything is de-cluttered and the countertops are clear. Pick up a fall themed soap dispenser with a nice scent and light a fall themed scented candle to keep it smelling nice in there. Lastly, you do not want to end up with wet hand towels in the bathroom so pick up some nicer disposable hand towels and make sure the trash is easily accessible.
6.) Lastly, enjoy yourself! This is a day meant for spending with friends and family and having a good time. Do not let all the preparation get you too stressed. Use these tips to be more prepared and don’t be afraid to buy something or use (dare we say it?) a box mix. Not everything needs to be 100% homemade; you can take a shortcut so you enjoy the day.